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Ballistic Seed Projection in Two Herbaceous Species

Wendy J. Garrison, Gary L. Miller and Richard Raspet
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 87, No. 9 (Sep., 2000), pp. 1257-1264
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2656718
Page Count: 8
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Ballistic Seed Projection in Two Herbaceous Species
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Abstract

We found that the majority of ballistic seeds tested [N = 74 of 78 in Vicia sativa ssp. nigra (Fabaceae); N = 25 of 27 in Croton capitatus var. capitatus (Euphorbiaceae)] were projected at angles that would yield a greater distance than the average of seeds with the same initial speed projected at random angles. In addition, the median of fractional distance error (maximum distance - seed distance)/(maximum distance), of the seeds were 0.11 and 0.04 for V. sativa and C. capitatus, respectively. Seed projection distance was modeled by using initial projection angle, initial speed, and measured drag, along with other seed data. We improved upon previous such studies by using dual-angle high-speed stroboscopic photography to determine initial projection angle and speed. We also measured seed drag in a low-turbulence wind tunnel. Seed projection positions on the plant, which also affect seed projection distance, were found to be primarily from the top of the plant, with 98 of 137 and 407 of 407 fruits in the upper half of the plant for V. sativa and C. capitatus, respectively. Our findings are significant because they suggest that in addition to the ballistic projection mechanism itself, the species studied have additional adaptations that result in enhanced seed projection distance from the parent plant.

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